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Ryan Seacrest’s $45 Million Salary Sends 'American Idol' Costs Soaring

Ryan Seacrest
Frank w. Ockenfels 3

Costs for the show jumped 17 percent to pay him.

Ryan Seacrest's salary to host American Idol tripled in 2009 -- jumping from $5 million a year to $15 million, paid in part by by CKX, which owns the Fox hit.

In addition to his $45 million, three-year deal to emcee the singing competition, which ends in 2012, Seacrest hosts his KIIS-FM radio show, produces the Kardashian reality show franchise for E! (where he is also the managing editor and lead anchor for E! news) and Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution (which won an Emmy last year). Altogether he earns $55 million a year.

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While Seacrest is making major bank -- his salary has sent American Idol's operating costs soaring.

According to a regulatory filing Monday, American Idol as a standalone business posted operating income of $13.6 million – same as CKX overall – though that represents a 17 percent fall for the hit TV show.

The lower operating income is presumably due to host Seacrest’s rising salary, as costs for the show jumped 17 percent, mirroring the decline in operating income. CKX is on the hook for $30 million of Seacrest’s $45 million compensation package.

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But Idol can afford Seacrest's whopping salary.

It's the most profitable show on television. It earns $7.11 million every half hour for News Corp., according to Forbes -- which is more than three times Two and a Half Men's $2.89 million per 30 minutes (which will be affected by Charlie Sheen's firing).

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And despite Simon Cowell's departure, it's averaging 25 million viewers, retaining about 100 percent of its viewership from the same period last year.